Ever since I was a little(r) girl I dreamed of being a missionary (I aspired to become like Mother Teresa haha). However the lesson that God has been impressing on my heart this season is the true cost of discipleship; in particular He's been challenging me with the passages Isaiah 58 and Philippians 2 - am I really willing to be SPENT for Jesus; to POUR OUT my life for the sake of HIS name and the Gospel, just as He poured out His life for me?!
The meaning of Christmas became more real to me as we entered the homes of the Roma families we were visiting. Most families used wood stoves so the homes were often quite smoky. As a result many of the children in the homes we visited suffered from respiratory problems (pneumonia, bronchitis). I wondered how the life expectancy compares to that of the general population. This reminded me how Jesus deserted all His former glory to enter our filthy and dark world of sin. Unlike the Roma people He was not warmly welcomed into our midst; in fact although the world was made through Him, we "did not recognise Him".
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
I have been inspired by the example of Andy and Lim and their co-workers in their ministry to the Roma. I can see that it is quite lonely for them at times, especially in a place where the language is foreign. Then there is the cost to physical health. During the trip any of our team fell ill, including Andy, Lim and co-workers Zeljka and Sergej; but I was humbled and encouraged at the selfless pouring out of love to the village and each other through the power of the Spirit in spite of sickness.
Yet for all these "trials" I can see how they pale in comparison to the overflowing joy that comes from seeing fruit - the trust that has been built up through this long term relationship of Andy and Lim with the little Roma village is heartening. A strong Jehovah's Witness influence grips the village, but even in this darkness I saw rays of hope. On the penultimate day of our short visit to Croatia our team visited a family. Like many other families they had been visited by Jehovah's Witnesses; however they shared that they did not like the JWs as they had tried to impose strict rules and extort money from them.
Andy and Lim however had won the favour of people's hearts in the village (in stark contrast to before), through the practical love shown through action e.g. holding UNA clubs for the children; visiting and praying for families of the sick; helping to raise money for roof repairs for a Roma family.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9